Saturday, September 5, 2015

Now You See Me

Movie Review : Now You See Me
Director :  Louis Leterrier
Genre : Thriller
Starring : Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Released : May 2013
My Rating : 7 out of 10

I was in India when the movie “Dhoom 3” came out with a huge hype. I was very disappointed by the movie. I thought it was an inept imitation of the one of the main premise of “Prestige”,  a movie I had liked. Then I heard that it was more inspired by “Now You See Me”, so I made a mental note of not watching it. But a lazy weekend made me needy enough to watch an entertaining movie. I put it on, and I must say that it was a fun ride.

As the movie starts, we are introduced to the four main characters in an impressively efficient way. Daniel Atals (Jesse Eisenberg) is a street magician, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a mentalist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) was once an assistant to Atlas and Jack Wilder (James Franco) is a con artist. These first few minutes set the tone for the entire movie. It’s clear from these opening scenes that we shouldn't be expecting much character development, the dialogues are going to be one liners and it’s going to be a fast paced movie that will try to dazzle us. Some viewers, may be reminded of “Ocean's 11”.

The movie happens in three acts. The first act involves the four protagonists stealing a French bank as part of a live magic show in front of a stunned crowd. The end result is no illusion, and FBI gets involved.

Detective Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) gets this case, and is extremely unhappy about the assignment. He doesn’t want to believe in the capabilities of these magicians, but gets outsmarted at every turn, and then is forced to work with a French female agent from Interpol. It soon becomes a personal battle for him to expose the gang. Helping him with cryptic hints, is an ex-magician Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Of course, there has to be an all knowing wise old man in such stories.

The second act is an equally impressive (and equally improbable) magic trick. Uptil this point, the high energy, witty dialogues, fast paced music and the ideas of the tricks keep everything very interesting. We learn more, and the real mystery starts slowly revealing itself.

Then, sadly, the third act starts. From this point, the plot relies on very convenient and unbelievable twists. The final magic trick is even more unreal. Well, all the magician movies that I have enjoyed, require the viewer to not question everything that is shown on the screen. “Prestige” was superb, and had that requirement. So did Edward Norton’s excellent movie “The Illusionist”. So I am OK with so called “suspension of disbelief”. What fails “Now you see me” is that the final trick is kind of boring, a bit predictable and too contrived, all at the same time. So the final payoff is a flat out disappointment.

In spite of that, overall, it’s packed with entertainment, and it will put a smile on your face, at least till the third act. The cast is A-list. It’s a big list, and hence everyone gets a small ration of screen time. But there is enough individual talent to shine through, and they will make you remember every character.

Director Louis Leterrier doesn’t rely on CGI here as much as did in his other movies (The Incredible Hulk, or Clash Of The Titans). There is also much less action compared to those movies. Still, this feels like a higher octane movie than those, and I think the director deserves credit for it.

A sequel is planned. I think I will watch that one too. I recommend the movie, but be aware that there are plot holes, and this movie is not to be taken too seriously. It should be fine for older teenagers.

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